The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.1 Timothy 4:1
One of the primary roles of demons is not just to tempt but also to deceive. The goal is to first lead people away from orthodoxy and then away from faith in Jesus altogether.
But how does it happen?
Just as we can “hear” the Holy Spirit whisper to us in our own thought-life, so too do demons inject their thoughts into our own. If we don’t know the truth of scripture and if we have little spiritual discernment, we can’t tell the difference between the whispers of demonic deception and our own thoughts. Sometimes demons over-play their hand and the thoughts are so jarring that we wonder, “Where did that thought come from?” Many times, that thought didn’t come from us at all but from a deceiver.
But the goal for a spirit of deception is not to get noticed. So the lies have to be just subtle enough–just believable enough–to make us think they are our own thoughts. Once we get led down this road, full-scale strongholds of deception start to get built. Even when people speak truth to us, the words bounce right off the walls of the stronghold–walls meant to protect the deception within.
Another tactic of the enemy is to spread a spirit of offense. Have you noticed how easily people are offended at each other these days? Ever wonder why the politically correct police get more and more oppressive with their ever growing list of things that can be considered offensive? All of this is a strategy of the enemy.
Demons pluck nerves. If you have a hurt or wound in a particular area of your life, and someone says something anywhere in the general vicinity of that wound, demons then pluck that nerve. It doesn’t matter that the person didn’t say anything offensive. It only matters that what was said could be misconstrued to be offensive. That’s enough for the demon to get a foothold, misconstrue what was said, and whisper lies of offense.
Have you ever had someone get offended at something you never said? Instead, the offense was at what they thought you said or what they thought you implied? Again, this is part of the strategy of the enemy. Satan has created a playground for himself out of our culture that is constantly living in offense and perpetually in a victim mentality. In a culture where the most offended person wins the argument, which is pretty much the case today, the enemy has full reign to plant seeds of offense, self-righteousness, pride and self-pity.
The purpose of a spirit of offense is the same as a spirit of deception. If I am offended by the truth, I certainly don’t have to listen to it. Truth is inherently life-giving and has the capacity to bring freedom to all who embrace it. But if the truth offends me, I now have an emotional barrier that keeps me from having to face it. If I live with the constant truth-repellent of “offense” then I will never be free.
We see this most clearly with the Pharisees. Jesus would do the most incredible miracles, but they would get offended that He broke a sabbath law in order to do it (Luke 6:6-11; Matthew 15:12). They couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Rather than celebrate the incredible miracle, they got offended and angry at Jesus. That’s what a spirit of offense does. It distracts people with a minor offense so that they can’t see the major work of God right in front of them.